Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità)

What are YOU looking at?!

Mouth Of Truth in Odaiba, Tokyo
One of the common things that I often noticed in Tokyo, especially in game centers, was this circular rock-like sculpture of a scary-looking man's face. The mouth and eyes are darkened holes within the sculpture, which make you wonder what could lie beyond if only you were to reach out and...

I see these faces every now and then, but often wonder what the meaning behind them is. Today I am happy to announce that I have finally found the answer...and also that I don't know anything about classic Hollywood movies.

In the beginning, I thought this face was strictly part of the Japanese culture, but to my surprise, after a little bit of research it actually originates from the Roman Empire (now Italy) as far back as the first century AD. Some scholars believe that during this time, the circular sculpture was actually just a decorative manhole cover back in ancient times. The "Bocca della Verità" is now located at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy.

Famous Lie-Detector

During the Middle Ages, a new myth rose up around the sculpture which stated that if you were to place your hand inside the sculpture's mouth and told a lie, the scuplture would then promptly bite your hand off!

Apparently, the Mouth of Truth became immortalized in a famous scene from a Hollywood movie entitled Roman Holiday, which I have never seen or heard of before, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. For those of you like me, who have never seen the movie, I've included a video of the scene here:

Largely due to this endearing scene, the famous mouth has been reproduced in many different forms in Japan and I believe it is also why so many Japanese couples "test" their love by placing their hands in the mouth of the man that may or may not bite their hands off.

There is an exact replica of the Bocca della Verità (made in and shipped from Italy) here in Tokyo, Japan! It's located on the second floor entrance of the popular Venus Fort shopping mall in Odaiba.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Water, Water, Everywhere...Except in Tokyo

Flood Prevention in Tokyo 

Second post in a week...NOT BAD! I decided that I'd post some educational articles about Japan on here from other websites that I found interesting, and didn't want to write all over I'll provide a link to it below:

Tokyo is a BIG CITY! Over 13 million people live here (as of 2013)! If you include the entire Greater Metropolitan Tokyo area that would be over 35 million people!

In addition to the danger caused by earthquakes, there is another destructive force of nature that has the ability to cause even more damage to this enormous cosmopolitan city...FLOODS! Japan is a country full of mountains...which funnel massive amounts of water towards the low-lying coast...where it happens that in one place, the capital city of Tokyo is located. How does the city stop all this water from causing destruction year after year? Check this video!


Here are some interesting facts about the giant tunnels:
  • found in the Saitama area (just 40km north of Tokyo)
  • build time: 9 years (1993 - 2006)
  • cost: $3 billion 
  • length: 6.3 km tunnel
  • power: 4 jet engines can drain 200m3 of water in 1 second

For more recent information about how Tokyo is currently UPGRADING their flood prevention structures, check out this article from and their own video report:

If you liked this post, and would like to see more educationally informative posts like this, please let me know, be leaving me a message! If not, I'll keep doing it anyway!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Off to see a Landmark...(and restarting my blog!)

Visit to Yokohama's Landmark Tower

Arriving back in Tokyo for my third year of I've decided to put in a lot more effort into updating my blog. To motivate me, I'm planning on purchasing a GoPro Hero 3 camera (exciting in itself since photography and cinematography are a few of my hobbies which have been put on hold due to being lazy).

I just realized that I haven't posted anything on here for over a year and a half! 

I went to Yokohama to do some shopping and check out the Landmark Tower on the weekend. Coincidentally, it was also the 20th anniversary of the building being built.

It's the tallest building in Japan!

Some of you might say, "But what about the Tokyo SkyTree?!" Well, the SkyTree isn't actually considered a "building" where people reside and work, however SkyTree is the tallest "man-made structure" in Japan. The Landmark Tower would only be the third tallest man-made structure, behind the SkyTree (634m) and Tokyo Tower (333m).

The Landmark Tower dominates the harbour area with its futuristic look, which can even look a bit ominous in the later hours of the evening.

Landmark Tower Facts:
  • completed in 1993
  • tallest building in Japan (296m)
  • 70 floors (Sky Garden observation deck is on the 69th floor)
  • fastest elevator in Japan (750m/s)
  • elevator time from bottom floor to top floor (about 40 seconds)
  • Mount Fuji can be seen on a clear day
  • 5 star hotel, shops, and restaurants included
  • Cosmo World Amusement Park is located right beside it
  • 1000 yen for a ticket to the Landmark Tower Sky Garden observation deck

How to get there:
  • Closest train station: Minatomirai Station on the Minatomirai Line
  • only about 30 minutes from Tokyo

 Here are some miscellaneous photos from the short outing:

Tokyo Bay from the Sky Garden (69th Floor) of Landmark Tower
Apparently Yokohama is famous for curry...?
Obligatory Sky Garden Stamp

Cosmo World
Night View of the Landmark Tower

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kitto Katsu (きっとかつ) - The Art of Japanese KitKat

Happy New Year 2012! 明けましておめでとうございます! has been a lonnnnnnng time since I posted on the blog. No excuses. I was just busy and lazy. 

Anyways, let's jump back into everything and anything Japan, shall we?

KitKat has always been one of my favourite chocolate bars (although I hated chocolate in general when I was a kid), but the Japanese have made the brand a little bit more exciting with a multitude of different flavours that come out on a seasonal basis.
KitKat (or pronounced Kitto Katto in Japan) is very close to the phrase "kitto katsu" (きっとかつ), which translates to "certain victory". For this reason, the makers of KitKat have marketed its chocolate with that slogan. Also, KitKat is usually given to students before important tests and exams as a symbol for wishing them GOOD LUCK!

Here are a few of the KitKat boxes I have collected so far this year. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly) I have eaten most of them so the actual chocolate bar (usually a different shade than brown) won't be seen. I'll add some more pictures as I accumulate more of these tasty treats. (UPDATED: February 20, 2012)

Cherry Blossoms and Green Tea

Annin Dofu (杏仁豆腐) - "Almond Tofu"

Strawberry Cheesecake

Kuromitsu (黒蜜) A Japanese sugary syrup - "Black Honey"


Not sure...please contact me if you know...otherwise this is "Wooden House flavour"
Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋 or 八橋) A Japanese confectionery made of flour, sugar, and cinnamon famous in Kyoto. (Thanks to Nicolas for the information)

Not sure...please contact me if you know...otherwise this is "Window flavour"
Hōjicha (ほうじ茶) A roasted Japanese green tea famous in Kyoto. (Thanks to Nicolas for the information)

Blueberry Cheesecake

Edamame - Soybean

Orange (or Tokyo SkyTree flavour)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Japanese Pranks are AWESOME - Part 2

The Japanese are BRUTAL when it comes to scaring people!

This is the second installment of my favourite Japanese pranks. To see the others, check out the first installment.

This time around, in honour of Hallowe'en coming up in a few weeks, I'd like to focus on pranks intended for the sole purpose of scaring someone to death.

As an added informational tidbit, the picture on the right, which most people in North America know as the girl from The Ring (which itself was a remake of a 1998 Japanese movie called Ring), is what ghosts look like in Asian culture. Asian people are deathly afraid of these "ghosts".

They may be brutal, but to me "BRUTAL is FUNNY".

Mirror - This prank is one of my all-time favourites. I played this one over and over again and laughed my @$$ off each time.

TV - Japanese girls watching a video clip from Ring...and then.........

   Doorway - This one is actually a Korean prank, but it's still funny. Watch until the end!

Wake-up - Innovative ways of waking someone up...with a a touch of EXTREME!

MRI - This one isn't really scary...but that depends on your definition. I'd consider this one more gross.

Miscellaneous Scares - This is a mish mash of random Japanese scare tactics. My favourites are the boulder ones.

Hope you enjoyed these, and again, if you'd like to check out the first installment, just click here.
Until next time! Keep on pranking!

The Wonderful...Part 1

Tsukiji fish market is a MUST SEE place if you are in Tokyo. It is very famous for it's tuna auction where gigantic tuna fish are laid out on the ground and are auctioned off to Tokyo's highest bidders. Apparently, the market is the absolute best place for the best freshest and best sushi you'll ever have. For foreigners to actually check out this auction, you have to wake up early in the morning, and be able to get in line for 5AM, as they only allow a very small number of people to witness it.

On the train last night at about 4:40am, excited about the prospect of eating the best sushi of our lives and after a very long day and night, some friends and I (by way of a couple of laughing Japanese girls) were alerted to the fact that the fish market is closed on Sundays. We went home both tired and hungry.

I will have to post about Tsukiji fish market another day. The running joke this year so far has been that weekend partying has stopped our ambitious plans of going to see it...and now that we actually tried to stick out the night to see it, we've been foiled by our lack of reading the "Days of Operation". By the rate we are going...we may never see this market until June...

The Wonderful

I can probably spend hours writing about all of the awesome things about Tokyo and Japan. It truly is a wonderful, exciting, interesting, beautiful, charming place. In this posting I want to highlight a few "wonderful" things...

1) Tokyo
  • I've posted this serene video on Facebook before, (it isn't my video) of Tokyo at different times in the day, starting in the early morning. Most of these famous places I have already been to and most of them are just 10 minutes away from my apartment. It's cool to see the streets of Tokyo actually empty, as normally it's like an ocean of people.

2) Japan
  • The image of this cartoon samurai is meant to symbolize the honour of the Japanese people. To date, I have lost several things in this country...on the crowded streets of Tokyo...mostly due to my negligence and absentmindedness.
 Losing something makes you feel stupid 
  • Commuter pass - A credit card size item that allows me to utilize the metro (train) system here in Tokyo. Value = $70 CDN. Lost at Harajuku station. Right after I get through the turnstile (using the pass)...I fumble through my pockets and realize I've lost the pass somewhere! After looking through all my belongings, I finally admit that I've lost my first item in Japan. Several hours later, in a hopeful attempt to see if anyone actually turned it into the station authorities, after giving them my name and going through a drawer, I was surprised to see my pass in the station worker's hands.
  •  Wallet - A beverage-filled evening, a few weeks ago, was topped off with somebody (who may or may not be me) losing their wallet in the middle of Shibuya (home to the crazy intersection that everyone thinks about when they think of Tokyo). The next day, a conversation with a police officer in the area said that a visit to the police station 3 days later (due to a long weekend) might offer a good chance. Lo and behold, the wallet was returned to the police office with all credit cards, IDs, and money! The money amounted to be about 50 000¥ (about $500 CDN) and it was ALL there...including change. I wasn't quite surprised this time, but I was deeply relieved. Um...and when I say "I"...I mean "someone". 
  • Hard Drive - Without even knowing, I apparently had also lost my new 1.5TB portable hard drive at the same time as my wallet. They both must have fallen out of my backpack during the night's festivities. So when the officer brought the bag to me, with my wallet in it, I was completely floored to see that my hard drive was in the same bag.

 To read my other related posting click here: The Weird...Part 1

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    The Weird... - Part 1's been 2 and a half weeks since I last posted something! That's bad...and I apologize to those of you who have been asking me and wondering where the posts have gone to. To make amends, I'm hoping to post at least three things this week (maybe more). I present to you a 3-part posting entitled "The Weird...The Wacky...The Wonderful".

    So much has happened since I last posted...let me count the ways...


    The Weird

    1) Ronald McDonald (Scary Japanese version)
    • If you haven't read or seen my previous McDonald's posting with a video of a "beautiful" Ronald, go check it out here.
    • I stumbled across this other video just today that's promoting McDonald's. I'm not sure if it's real, but it made me laugh.

    2) UFO Catchers
    • If you don't know what that is, it's basically one of those machines where you win a prize by using "THE CLAW".
    Hello Kitty? Super Mario? Choose your destiny!
    • UFO Catchers are EVERYWHERE! There are buildings and arcades with rooms FILLED with these things, selling anything from candy to stuffed toys to posters.
    • In Akihabara (the electronic, nerdy part of Tokyo) I, along with another coworker, with a significant amount of money, and with the disgraceful pity of one of the employees (who made it easier and easier for us to win) won one of these each:
    Super Sonico!
    3) Sushi Stapler
    • The picture speaks for itself:
    ...but where's the wasabi?
     4) Milk Soda

    • FINALLY! Everyone's two favourite things: Milk AND Soda...TOGETHER AT LAST!
    • I drank half of this because I was thirsty. The rest of the bottle is still sitting on my fridge.

      5) Gang Fights? it couldn't be!
      • I woke up around 8am early on Sunday morning to girls shrieking outside of my apartment and sounds of a street fight. I ran out of my building looking frantically for the sounds of the commotion, when I see something on the other side of the metro line:

      •  I'll pretend the guy on the right is the "White Ranger" and the guy on the left is..."the bad guy with a scorpion face".
      • Apparently they were filming some sort of movie outside my apartment, which included a group of actors dressed in school uniforms who provided the screaming that woke me up.

      Anyways, I hope you readers continue to enjoy the posts I put up. This was a short AND random one that I just threw together, but here is a preview of some other things I'm going to be posting very soon:
      • Long weekend trip to Nikko (World Heritage Site)
      • Sumo Wrestling
      • Food!
      • Baseball in Japan
      • Fashions
      • Typhoons